Update on March 8, 2012:
For years, I have recommended—at this blog, in my articles, in my newsletters, during my webinars, during interviews with other media, in my live presentations and elsewhere—that you NOT pitch a blogger unless you spend time at their blog reading their posts. You must have a good understanding of what they write about. You must know their target audience. You must determine, before you pitch, if your topic is a good fit. If the answer is yes, then and only then, can you use the technique I’ve described below. I should have made that clear when I wrote this.
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If you want to pitch bloggers or journalists, and make them snap to attention when they read your pitch, let them know you know the names of their dogs or cats, or other personal details that you might be able to weave into your pitch.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I want to pitch Claire Celsi, who writes the Publicity Relations Princess blog.
1. First, I check her “About” page and I learn that her husband’s name is Jim, her dog’s name is Trixie and she lives in Iowa, not far from Wisconsin where I live.
That sure was easy.
But what if she doesn’t have an “About” page? And what if I don’t have a lot of time to read her blog posts to find out if she even has a dog? Here’s a quick and easy way I’m able to learn not only that she has a dog, but the dog’s name, in less than 30 seconds and several more valuable details in less than 60 seconds. When you see how drop-dead simple this is, you’ll howl.
First, I set my timer to see how long this takes. Then I open my Google browser and search for [claire celsi blog] + [my dog]”. The brackets tell Google I want an exact match.
I struck gold! Here’s what Google returned to me. These are the first two listings on the page:
In less than 30 seconds, I learn:
- Claire has a dog that she affectionately refers to as “Trixie the Wonder Dog.” (The About page at her blog simply says the dog’s name is Trixie.)
- She inherited a teapot from her grandmother.
Curious about the teapot, I click on that second link and I find a blog post with a pretty photo of purple flowers inside a teapot:
More golden nuggets! I also discover:
- Trixie loves to chase squirrels.
- Claire collects ceramic pieces and loves this teapot that she inherited from her grandmother.
- On a spring day in April (the blog post includes the date), she delights in finding purple flowers in her backyard and she places them inside the teapot in her house. Why does Claire think that finding flowers in her backyard is such a big deal? Because she lives in Iowa, where it isn’t unusual to see snow in April.
Now, I’ve collected enough details.
I’ve Done My Research. It’s Time to Pitch
Because I live in the Midwest too, I know that this has been one of the warmest winters on record. Using that information, and knowing what I know from the nuggets I collected at her blog, I connect the dots.
Here’s the first paragraph:
I hope this finds you, Jim and Trixie well, and that Trixie is enjoying her walks and chasing squirrels in Iowa’s very unseasonably warm winter. It won’t be long before you can fill your teapot with spring flowers again.
(Now, I pitch my idea….)
See how easy this is?
It took me far longer to write this blog post that it did to learn all those juicy details about Claire’s life. The first paragraph of my pitch tells her: “I know who you are. I know your husband’s name. I know your dog’s name. I know your dog’s nickname. I know you live in Iowa. I know you love finding flowers in your backyard in April. I know you collect ceramic items. I know you love to put the flowers in your grandmother’s teapot.”
That’s so much more powerful than the crappy pitch someone emailed last week:
“I am a freelance writer who would like to write for your blog. If you have an interest in tips about romance, please let me know and I’ll write something.”
That pitch says: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your name because if I did I would have used it in the salutation. I’m too lazy to read your blog so I don’t know what you write about. But I’m not worried about wasting your time.”
Other Ways to Use My Tips
My tips don’t always work because not all bloggers and journalists share personal details about themselves online. But many do.
You can use my Google search tips to also find the name of their spouse or children. But be very careful about mentioning the children’s names in your pitch. Some bloggers, particularly women, might think you’re stalking their kids. If you do name the children, let the blogger know how know the names. Example:
“You’ve mentioned several times in your blog that Ashley, your 3-year-old, loves fingerpainting. You might be interested in knowing about non-toxic., kid-safe cloth wipes my company has created that remove paint from walls and carpets…”
Also, these personal details work best when you can actually tie them into the topic of your pitch, like I just did.
I got the idea for this post after I wrote an item earlier this week on How personal details in your pitch is your ticket to publicity. Blogger BL Ochman wrote about a **really great** PR pitch she received from Rob Toledo of Distilled Creative and she actually dissected the pitch to show you what caught her attention.
In the Comments section of my post, Rob mentioned that he was able to find the name of BL’s dog, but not mine. So, Rob, this post is for you, and for anybody else who wants to bowl over a blogger or journalist with a pitch.
But I can’t leave within showing you the adorable photo of Trixie the Wonder Dog:
Thanks, Claire, for sending it. And here’s a photo of Claire and hubby Jim:
Let’s hear how other Publicity Hounds research journalists and bloggers. Have you ever used interesting details in your pitch? If so, tell us about it and link to the article or blog post that you got as a result.
A Tool That Can Help You:
If you don’t have $3,000 to spend on a big, fancy media list, and if you want to create your own customized list of far fewer journalists and bloggers, and collect the kinds of details you see here, check out How to Create Your Own Database of Valuable Media Contacts. The learning tool comes with the same 8 templates I use. They will save you months of time.